Goblin Wisdom of the Ages or Rules to Game By
by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)
It occurred to me as I was sitting in my my comfy chair, languidly reading through my favorite gaming books, that I have been remiss in my duties towards those who’ve been introduced to the world of tabletop roleplaying games through our efforts here at The Nerd Machine. I would like very much to correct any oversight in your burgeoning gaming career. To that end, I would like to offer some advice to players and Game Masters that will help you flourish, and fulfill your destinies as tabletop savants.
1. Never split the party. Seriously. There’s strength in numbers, you know. Bad things happen when you go off on your own. Don’t believe me? Watch any crap-tastic horror flick you can get your grubby paws on. They’re always going off by themselves to do God-knows-what and SLUNK! Machete right through the eye socket. It’s the same with adventuring parties. Never, and I mean never, go off with some shady looking NPC that says he’s got something cool for you to look at, and your cleric and wizard friends would just be bored by tagging along. But you, O you’re a fighter type, and so can appreciate the quality craftsmanship of a GIANT, EIGHT-LEGGED GOAT DEMON who ambushes you just as the jerk that was leading you through the sewers (sans other party members, of course), runs and hides. You = dead.
2. Always check for traps..and disable them. There should to be a rogue in every party. If there isn’t, the guy who was all excited about playing a gnome druid needs to be smacked repeatedly about the head and shoulders until he makes a useful character. Once you have your rogue, you’re set to go. It really doesn’t matter if he’s been knocked unconscious by all the smacking. You can roll his dice for him. Anyway, remember this very important fact: there are traps and they will hurt you…a lot. So, detect them, and then for the love of Autolycus, disarm them! Do you want your party to be impaled on spikes, burnt to a crisp, poisoned, or flattened? It’s your roguish job.
3. Don’t steal from party treasure (unless you’re really good). We’re all for a down-on-his-luck hero trying to make his way in the harsh wilderness of [insert favorite fantasy setting here], but there have to be some rules. Some niceties. A certain etiquette, if you will. One of the surest ways to disrupt party unity is to get caught stealing from party funds, especially if the party leader happens to be a paladin. You know paladins: stoic, determined, a little smelly, completely lacking in any discernible sense of humor, and quite low on the mercy meter when it comes to larceny. Seems like they give all the breaks to the outcasts, defenseless, and downtrodden. Well you’re downtrodden, dang it! But just to be on the safe side, you may want to send the paladin off to a nice, holy, dreamworld before you snatch some gold. And keep your eye on the wizard and cleric, too. The wizard is liable to fry you, or turn you into something unnatural, and the cleric’ll just wake up the paladin and tell on you.
4. Kill it! Kill it with fire! You know that Kobold you’ve been beating the hell out of for the last 10 rounds? Yeah, that ain’t a Kobold, buddy. That’s a polymorphed T-Rex, and he ain’t happy you’ve been bashing in his brains. So, what’s he gonna do? Maybe bite you, maybe flip you off, maybe fling his poo at you. The one thing he ain’t gonna do any time soon is die. That is, unless you hit him with the good stuff: fire, and lots of it. It helps to have an unstable, nay psychotic, spell slinger in the party with a penchant for pyromania. They’re great for blowing the crap out of polymorphed dinosaurs, squads of orcs, that smarmy merchant that’s been cheating you out of your hard earned coin, wagons with piles of dead bodies, and whole villages. Let’s face it, those villagers were in on the whole cheating merchant thing. They had it coming.
5. Bribe the GM. As a Game Master, I can’t tell you how important this rule is. You see, it’s like placating the gods. When you want lots of xp and loots, you have to offer something to the person behind the GM Screen. In return, the benevolent one won’t kill your worthless character that you spent hours creating. Not today. But this benevolence is conditional on what sort of treats you offer. Coffee and pastries could earn you a free “stupid pass” or two. In other words, you bring me coffee and donuts, and your character survives his next act of stupidity. Beer and pizza may get you not only a free stupid pass, but also a couple snazzy magic items to boot.
For the GM
I’ve given some tried and true advice to the player, but I can’t end without also offering some advice to the Game Master. Running the game is just as important as playing it-possibly more so, and so I want to offer you the benefit of my vast experience in dealing with players. As such, this advice section is for the newly elected, and installed Game Master. You player gits can clear out. This isn’t for you. Are they gone? Good. Now, here’s what you do the first chance you get: kill the lot of them. You know they deserve it. Just look at their smug, self-satisfied smirks. Think they’re so special. Well, you know what’ll knock that look off their faces? A well-placed chain lightning followed by a hundred-no, a thousand-angry fire giants. Ain’t nobody getting out of that one alive. You may want to call in a few arch demons as well.
But if you’re not in a wrathful mood, particularly if one of the players took the above advice to bribe you, then you’ll want to brush up on your improv skills. Lots of folks will tell you to prepare every detail of the encounters, and you should prepare. Absolutely. But, no matter how much you prepare, your players will do something so off-the-wall, so insane that you can’t prepare for it. But if you’re able to roll with it, and modify your story ideas on the fly, and keep the pace going, you and your players will greatly benefit from it. Those are usually the most memorable moments.
So, there you have it. Sound advice for all involved. Now, go play.